Bow Group Calls for Conservative Leadership Candidates to Clarify Position on EU Citizens in the UK & British Expats Abroad


Bow Group Calls for Conservative Leadership Candidates to Clarify Position on EU Citizens in the UK & British Expats Abroad & Urges that the Vienna Convention be Honoured


In the past week the Bow Group has met with several foreign Embassies to discuss the ramifications of Brexit. All have expressed a primary concern as to what it means for EU citizens in the United Kingdom, and have indicated that they have received a huge volume of enquiries from their citizens living in the UK on the matter. British expats living in Europe have expressed similar concern as to the uncertainty surrounding their status. 

In the wake of increased uncertainty over the rights of EU Citizens in the UK, the Bow Group calls for all five Conservative Leadership candidates to urgently clarify their positions on what they believe to be the future of EU Citizens' continued rights in the UK and to honour the statutes of the Vienna Convention to allow settled peoples the right to continue to live, work and retire. 


Key Points:

  • 1969 Vienna Convention stipulates individual "acquired rights" to live, work and retire
  • Brexit may throw the status of European law rights into doubt for EU nationals in Britain & British expats in the EU
  • Theresa May and the Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond have stated that repatriation of EU citizens currently living in the United Kingdom remains an option 
  • Andrea Leadsom has countered by defending the rights of "European friends" to remain in the UK 
  • The positions of Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Michael Gove remain unclear




"We are still a member of the EU – there is no change in their position currently. But of course as part of the negotiation we will need to look at this question of people who are here in the UK from the EU."

 - The Rt Hon.Theresa May MP

"I commit today guaranteeing rights of EU friends who have already come here to live and work. We must give them certainty, there is no way they will be bargaining chips in our negotiations."
- The Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP



Bow Group Chairman, Ben Harris-Quinney said:

We would first urge all candidates running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, and therefore Prime Minister, to clarify their position on EU nationals resident in the UK and British expats resident in the EU. We further urge all candidates to respect and acknowledge the Vienna Convention and recognise that even the suggestion of repatriation of EU citizens is causing great uncertainty and concern.

I campaigned for Brexit and I celebrate the result, I did not campaign for the repatriation of EU citizens living in Britain. Were a candidate to become leader that supported such a policy I wouldn't hesitate to resign my membership of the Conservative Party"

Bow Group Research Fellow, Hector Marchetti Urena said:

"I myself am an European migrant to the UK with Spanish and Italian heritage. My parents have worked hard and contributed both to the country's finance and their local community. After so many years living in the UK, why should their own and so many others' employment, homes and future suddenly be jeopardised?

I believe that Mrs. May is realising the pressure which she faces from Conservative Party grassroots members declaring for Mrs. Leadsom. In response to this, it seems that Mrs. May has unfortunately opted for a strong-arm tactic in an attempt to appear tough on migration.

Risking the future of EU Citizens in the UK would be reciprocated for UK Citizens in the EU. At a time when a new relationship is being explored, such an approach would not be conducive for future of foreign relations with our continental friends, allies and indeed cousins.

To address this issue, all Conservative Leadership candidates ought to include this matter as part of their vision for Brexit negotiations."


UPDATE 11:20am 05/07/2016

The Rt Hon. Michael Gove MP responds to the Bow Group's press release



Tuesday, July 5, 2016